Monthly Archives: November 2012

Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectual…Patrick Buchanan

There are tremendous cultural and intellectual differences between faiths that have historically resulted in the persecution of whichever faith found itself in a minority within a larger society. This has been true historically and it is true today. While we pay lip service to religious freedom in the west our leaders are busy attempting to remove every vestige of practice by the faithful that is not consistent with their goals. Intellectually faith has become an embarrassment and the principal exercises they conduct are attempts to discredit it and use biology to explain how a twisted nerve predetermines the sinner or the saint.

As part of this effort there has arisen the perceived need to take isolated cases – like stories of blood libel, of which Walter Laqueur estimates there are only 150 recorded cases in nearly two millennia  – and use them to discredit the larger society and in particular the Catholic Church. In any society in which one group constitutes an overwhelming  majority it follows that most of both the good and the bad things will be attributable to that group. By sheer force of numbers they will fill both the academy and the prison and you can not use the contents of either to make a definitive statement about the society.

What we do know is that the Church has historically worked to protect the dignity of man – far more than any nation. In this case Pope Innocent IV took action against the practice of blood libel as early as the 5th of July 1247 in his Mandate to the prelates of Germany and France to annul all measures adopted against the Jews on account of the ritual murder libel, and to prevent accusation of Arabs on similar charges.  He wrote that “Certain of the clergy, and princes, nobles and great lords of your cities and dioceses have falsely devised certain godless plans against the Jews, unjustly depriving them by force of their property, and appropriating it themselves;…they falsely charge them with dividing up among themselves on the Passover the heart of a murdered boy…In their malice, they ascribe every murder, wherever it chance to occur, to the Jews. And on the ground of these and other fabrications, they are filled with rage against them, rob them of their possessions without any formal accusation, without confession, and without legal trial and conviction, contrary to the privileges granted to them by the Apostolic See…Since it is our pleasure that they shall not be disturbed,…we ordain that ye behave towards them in a friendly and kind manner. Whenever any unjust attacks upon them come under your notice, redress their injuries, and do not suffer them to be visited in the future by similar tribulations” 

People may choose to maintain their own alphabet, language, social customs and heritage within larger and different societies. The best of these societies find ways to accommodate the minorities in their midst and often assimilate parts of the different cultures into their own mainstream. There have always been martyrs – both political and religious – and no society is exempt from criticism of the circumstances that have created them. That having been said fostering a psychology of martyrdom – or worse yet creating a cult of martyrdom – has never been healthy. Not for Christians, not for Jews and not for Arabs – yet all three have done so.

At one level this is a worthwhile book giving certain historical insight into the particulars of a single case. Once it leaves the bounds of the case and starts generalizing about historical tendencies it is no more accurate than Marx addressing historical inevitability. A true scholar would know the difference.

Trent 1475 : stories of ritual murder trial New Haven : Published [by] Yale University Press in cooperation with Yeshiva University Library, c 1992 R. Po-chia Hsia Blood accusation Italy Trento Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xxvi, 173 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG   

On Easter Sunday, 1475, the dead body of a two-year-old boy named Simon was found in the cellar of a Jewish family‘s house in Trent, Italy. Town magistrates arrested all eighteen Jewish men and one Jewish woman living in Trent on the charge of ritual murder—the killing of a Christian child in order to use his blood in Jewish religious rites.

Under judicial torture and imprisonment, the men confessed and were condemned to death; their women folk, who had been kept under house arrest with their children, denounced the men under torture and eventually converted to Christianity. A papal hearing in Rome about possible judicial misconduct in Trent made the trial widely known and led to a wave of anti-Jewish propaganda and other accusations of ritual murder against the Jews.

In this engrossing book, Hsia reconstructs the events of this tragic persecution, drawing principally on the Yeshiva Manuscript, a detailed trial record made by authorities in Trent to justify their execution of the Jews and to bolster the case for the canonization of “Little Martyr Simon.”

Hsia depicts the Jewish victims (whose testimonies contain fragmentary stories of their tragic lives as well as forced confessions of kidnap, torture, and murder), the prosecuting magistrates, the hostile witnesses, and the few Christian neighbors who tried in vain to help the Jews. Setting the trial and its documents in the historical context of medieval blood libel, Hsia vividly portrays how fact and fiction can be blurred, how judicial torture can be couched in icy orderliness and impersonality, and how religious rites can be interpreted as ceremonies of barbarism.

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The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency… Pope John Paul II

It is always most difficult to straddle an issue but that seems to be the American way. Ever since Jefferson declared that he had sworn sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man, he has been the great champion of the freedom of non-religion in the United States – it being assumed that all religions exert some form of tyranny of the minds of their adherents. Instead of religion we had first progress and then science and finally social science and while the first two required individuals for their highest expression the last is their abysmal corruption into collectivism.

But the argument by no means started with Jefferson and America. Philosophically it is at least as old as Plato and Aristotle and historically it is interesting to see that the full flower of individualism blossoms with Christianity. With Christianity there is God who is superior to every earthly power and man – created in his image and likeness and having, each and every one,  a individual immortal soul and being specifically answerable to God for the stewardship of his life – can no longer be forced to acknowledge an earthly king as a deity. Remember the crime for which many early Christians were martyred was lese-majeste, a treasonable offense violating the dignity of a ruler as the representative of a sovereign power, most often the refusal to acknowledge the assumed divinity of Caesar.

Augustine places the limits on the ruler when he asks, In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery? And he also explains our exceptionalism  when he tells us that, If we did not have rational souls, we would not be able to believe. This is where he parts company with Jefferson who exhorts us to, Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear, to which Augustine would answer simply,  Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

The triumph of Jefferson over Augustine has meant that every article of faith from the existence of God to the relationship of God to man and man to God is an open question. Effectively this means the end of the Christian religion which – like every religion – depends upon Dogma [the Apostle’s Creed for example] and leaves us open to the vagaries of the improper application of an inexact set of experiments and observations called social science. And the dogma of social science is that we are the results of genetic mutation in apes and may be herded as easily as any other animal. Indeed their greatest discovery is that we “need” to be herded for the common good and anyone who dares question this is guilty of leze-majeste. Does it seem that we have come full circle back to a king meeting out just and unjust laws to a savage race? Anyone who takes Toumela’s work as anything but a warning will be subject to, The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,  A savageness in unreclaimed blood.

The philosophy of sociality : the shared point of view Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, c 2007 Raimo Tuomela Social epistemology Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. viii, 318 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 302-310) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Concepts based on full-blown collective intentionality (aboutness), viz., we-mode intentionality, are central for understanding and explaining the social world. The book systematically studies social groups, acting in them as a group member, collective commitment, group intentions, beliefs, and actions, especially authority-based group attitudes and actions. There are also chapters on cooperation, social institutions, cultural evolution, and group responsibility.

The Philosophy of Sociality examines the nature of sociality in its various forms, with special emphasis on collective intentionality. Raimo Tuomela begins with a distinction between the “we-perspective” and the “I-perspective.” His study of strong collective intentionality – as expressed by joint intentions, collective commitment, group belief, authority-based group action, and other phenomena – outlines the circumstances under which an individual is required to think and act as a group member. By developing a systematic theory of sociality, Tuomela investigates such topics as social institutions, cooperation, cultural evolution, and group responsibility.

In The Philosophy of Sociality Tuomela asserts that “we-mode” collective intentionality is a conceptual prerequisite for understanding basic social notions. He finds several contexts in which we-mode intentionality is preferable to “pro-group” I-mode intentionality. He ultimately defends a naturalistic view of the social world by arguing that the we-mode is a genetic and cultural adaptaion.

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Posterity will do justice to that unprincipled maniac Gladstonean extraordinary mixture of envy, vindictiveness, hypocrisy and superstition and with one commanding characteristic.Whether Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, whether preaching, praying, speechifying, or scribbling never a gentleman.He is so vain that he wants to figure in history as the settler of all the great questions; but a parliamentary Constitution is not favourable to such ambitions. Things must be done by parties, not by persons using parties as tools… Benjamin Disraeli

The lion and the unicorn : Gladstone vs Disraeli New York : W.W. Norton, 2007      Richard Aldous Great Britain Politics and government 1837-1901 Hardcover. 1st American ed. and printing. xv, 368 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The vicious political struggle that electrified Victorian society, brilliantly re-created for a new generation.

William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were the fiercest political rivals of the nineteenth century. Their intense mutual hatred was both ideologically driven and deeply personal. Their vitriolic duels, carried out over decades, lend profound insight into the social and political currents that dominated Victorian England.

To Disraeli – a legendary dandy descended from Sephardic Jews – his antagonist was an “unprincipled maniac” characterized by an “extraordinary mixture of envy, vindictiveness, hypocrisy, and superstition.” For the conservative aristocrat Gladstone, his rival was “the Grand Corrupter,” whose destruction he plotted “day and night, week by week, month by month.”

Aldous has written a political biography, giving us the first dual portrait of this intense and momentous rivalry. Aldous’s narrative style – by turns powerful, witty, and stirring – brings new life to the Gladstone and Disraeli story and confirms a perennial truth: in politics, everything is personal.

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Two things only the people anxiously desire – bread and circuses…Juvenal

Spectacle entertainments of early imperial Rome New Haven : Yale University Press, c 1999 Richard C. Beacham Rome History Empire, 30 B.C.-284 A.D. Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xii, 306 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 279-296) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

The presentations in the theater, gladiatorial combats, chariot races in the circus, animal hunts, triumphal processions, and other public entertainments of early imperial Rome served as tangible expressions of Roman ideology and power. This engagingly written book describes these lavish spectacles, traces their evolution under Rome’s political masters from Caesar to Nero, and discusses their social and political significance.

Drawing on primary accounts of ancient historians as well as on archaeological evidence, Richard C. Beacham examines the stagecraft of Roman statecraft, providing illuminating accounts of such episodes as the intensely theatrical rivalry of Caesar and Pompey, Augustus’s performance in what the Princeps himself called the “mime of life,” and the demented antics of Caligula. He shows how Roman politicians and emperors created awesome spectacles of mass appeal in a potent exercise of demagoguery. He argues that the Roman people in turn jealously guarded their right to be entertained, regarding the theater, circus, and arena as political venues in which to demonstrate their power and vent their opinions.

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Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Thus saith the Lord : the revolutionary moral vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah Orlando : Harcourt, c 2006 Richard E. Rubenstein Ethics in the Bible Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xii, 258 p. : map ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [241]-250) and index. Map on lining papers. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG   

In ancient Judea, Jeremiah and Isaiah advised kings and priests and watched the great armies of the ancient Near East sweep across the desert, threatening and overtaking their tiny country with its burgeoning faith. Across centuries a new view emerged based on their words: Might does not make right; we are all the children of one God.

Both the beautiful words of Isaiah and the frightening words of Jeremiah helped form our contemporary ideas of justice, ethics, and faith. Richard Rubenstein shows us the evolution of our own moral codes and how they transformed the god of the Israelites from a local deity into Adonai [The Mighty Father God], the universal sovereign who requires ethical behavior and demands the pursuit of justice for all people.

A work of historical and religious insight, Thus Saith the Lord will inspire readers to reexamine their beliefs and hear anew the words of these religious revolutionaries.

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